PNG Government Protects Local Industries

By: Andrew A
4th December 2017

The PNG Government has take a bold stand in protecting the local industries with an increase in tax for competing products.

These ‘Protectionary Measures” by Government will ensure that the local industries will thrive and be abel to have an upper-hand in competing with similar products from overseas.

Similar protection is offered to local beef suppliers and other agriculture based companies operating in Papua New Guinea which are partly owned by locals.

The revived Ilimo Farm which has seen an investment of K128m will employ over 150 fulltime staff and produced 13 million litres of dairy products. The dairy farm will produce a range of products from milk, yogurt, ice cream and other dairy snacks.

A similar farm will be setup in Lae

 

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The National

7th September 2017

THE Ilimo Dairy Farm in Central will cost about US$41 million (about K128m)  to complete, says National Planning Minister Richard Maru.
He recently visited the farm to see the progress.
The project is being developed by Innovative Agro Industry Ltd.
Ilimo Dairy Farm is located in the Kairuku-Hiri district of Central.
The shareholders equity partners of the project include IAI at 50 per cent, the government at 20 per cent and Central government owns 30 per cent.
Further financing, facilitated by IAI, is provided by Bank Leumi, of Israel. The farm is expected to create employment for more than 150 fulltime employees.
It is estimated that Papua New Guinea imports around 13 million litres of dairy products annually.
At full capacity, the Ilimo dairy farm will produce five million liters of dairy products annually, including fresh milk, flavoured milk, yogurts, icecream and other dairy snacks.
By replacing imports, the farm is expected to slash consumer prices by at least 40 per cent.
Maru was briefed about the construction phase, which is expected to be completed by November, with products on the shelves by next January.
The dairy cows have arrived from New Zealand and are at the facility.
“Putting cash into the people’s hard work is starting a programme of finalised inclusion,” he said.
“We need to engage our people now and stop the rhetoric of the inclusion slogan of ordinary hard working Papua New Guineans and inject much-needed cash into local economies.”
“llimo Dairy is scheduled to be completed within a short 12-month period, is yet another example of the government’s public-private partnership programme, which continues to create a wealth of opportunities for our people.
“We are helping our people to spend money locally while creating opportunities at the village level. In this particular partnership, IAI have proven once more that they are serious about developing the agriculture industry in Papua New Guinea.
“The government is deliberately investing in the dairy farm to reduce the importation of over K400 million in dairy products that Papua New Guinea imports
annually, which we can produce locally.
“Papua New Guinea will need a further three to four dairy farms of the same size as lllimo to produce enough volumes of dairy products to meet our needs.
“The government will be working with the Morobe provincial government to identify suitable land for the setting up of our second dairy farm in Lae depending on the success of the farm and processing plant at IIlimo.”

http://www.thenational.com.pg/ilimo-farm-ready-milk-opportunities-cut-imports-pleasing-says-minister-maru/

 

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Abel’s 100 DAY PLAN explained

100 DAY PLAN EXPLAINED IN PARLIAMENT

1st December 2017

The 100 Day, 25 Point Plan expires on the 2nd of December, and in the light of prevailing circumstances was and is intended to demonstrate proactive and inspire confidence and kick start the Alotau Accord II by understanding specific activities around.

  • MAINTAINING FISCAL DISAPLINE AND BOOSTING FOREIGN EXCHANGE
  • GROWING OUR REVENUES
  • STRENGHTENING OUR ECONOMIC BASE AND IMPROVING OUR GOVERNANCE and
  • ACTING STRATEGICALLY

 

These activities obviously roll into point 1 and 2of the 25 Point Plan which are the 2017 Supplementary and 2018 Budgets.

The intention of points 1 and 2 was to maintain fiscal discipline in the light of the prevailing difficult circumstances in terms of our budget parameters of 2.5 % fiscal deficit and debt to GDP of 30% so as not to put more stress on government financing and the economy.

A number of measures were undertaken to maintain the discipline but primarily as per Point 4, and thanks to the understanding of Honourable Members of this Parliament, the Service Improvement Program was reduced in 2017.

Pont 3 was related to payroll strengthening and the Ospeac (Organisation, Staffing and Personal Emoluments Committee) has been reactivates and is progressing a payroll audit and cleansing exercise and the NID registration requirements as explained by the Minister for Public service in Parliament. This is response to the primary cost escalation factor of Government which is the unsustainable growth in personal emoluments.

Point 5 was for;

  1. The drawdown of the balance of the Credit Suisse loan of which two technical requirements will have been met following the budget session enabling the final balance to be drawn.
  2. To access World Bank and ADB Budget support funding for the 2018 budget. This has been achieved following my trip to Washington where the world Bank will provide US$100m for debt restructuring in 2018 and another $100m in both 2019 and 2020. The ADB is also providing budget support commencing in 2018 for the health sector for up to US$300m commencing in 2018.

These measures provide financial resources at good terms and bring in foreign exchange.

 

Point 6 was for ;

  1. Oil search to provide a minimum of 50% of the crude oil needs to the Napanapa Refinery and in Kina terms. This has been achieved through an agreement and is happening.
  2. Transition to gas powered electricity – The Pom Gas 58MW electricity project has been approved by Cabinet and has commenced construction to provide the cheapest in the country power source using our own gas and all sales dominated in Kina. The power plant will be owned d by oil search and Kumul Petroleum with shares to be taken up by MRDC. The availability of domestic gas can catalyse other gas powered initiatives.
  • Rice production – the lrice quota scheme has been delayed and 3 large scale rice projects are being developed with 3 separate private sector partners and potential support in the 20187 budget through the Agriculture Commercialisation Fund.
  1. The Bank of Papua New Guinea intervention into the forex market was US$100m is done. The BPNG is now conducting a review on all foreign currency accounts and the oligations od those account holders, particularly resource companies to remit excess funds back to PNG.

 

Pont 7-  For non-tax revenue collecting agencies to remit 90%  of their revenues to CRF has commenced and with some immediate action with specific agencies and will be reinforced by the Public Money Management Regularisation Bill 2017approved by Cabinet and to be tables in conjunction with this budget.

 

Pont 8 and 10 – Relate to tax regime reform and this is being managed through the new Medium Term Revenue Strategy, developed in conjunction with the IMF and a new tax Administration Bill which I will bring shortly. Measures will commence in the Budget to tidy up the tax code and the BPNG, IRC, IPA and commercial banks and cooperating to enforce compulsory Tax Identification Number requirement for opening bank accounts. The commercial banks have agreed to provide information to the IRC regarding bank accounts. The commercial banks have agreed to provide information to IRC regarding bank account being operated in a business manner for further scrutiny. Significant funding support is provided in the 2018 budget for both the IRC and the Customs to boost capacity against quantified additional revenue collection

 

 

Point 9 – The establishment of the task force for IRC, Lands, Customs and Illicit Trade. Funding has been provided in the Supplementary Budget and the Attorney General, Labour and Immigration Ministers are leading the Customs and Illicit Trade, Lands Minister- the Lands task force and Treasurer – the IRC task force.

 

Point 11 – Progress of some significant resource development projects and Wafi Golpu, PNG LNG expansions, Papua LNG are all on track for early works, pre FEED or FEED in 2018. Western LNG has announced pre FEED works last month.

 

Point 12 – The launch of the new Australian DEFAT grant funded project, the PNG- Australia Economic and Social Infrastructure Program and ANGAU Hospital re-development design and still pending, and the TB project co-funded with the World Bank has had the financing documents executed already.

 

Point 13 – The power projects;

  1. The 58MW Pom Gas project construction has began
  2. The 30MW PNG Bio Mass project with Oil Search is in progress
  • The Ramu 2 180MW Project has had commercial close via a Cabinet decision but is pending financial close due to certain conditions precedent.
  1. Naoro Brown River Hydro Project is progressing with funding from the World Bank
  2. Hela Gas power solution is being negotiated with Exxon Mobil and Oil Search. In the meantime funding is provided in this budget to pull the powerlines from Mendi to Hides to provide the missing power and NBN telecommunications link to access power to communities from the Ramu Grid and surplus from the Tari existing generator.

 

Point 14 – Certain High Impact Projects

  1. The international submarine cable from the Australian Government has now offered to fund from Sydney to Port Moresby and Port Moresby to Honiara, PNG will own these 100% and 50% respectively and will substantially increase reliability and lower cost of data in PNG some 25 times.
  2. The Pacific Maritime Industrial Project has had a few financing agreements signed with the China EXIM Bank.
  • The Sepik Plains agriculture Project together with Baya Valley and the Central Plains are identified for large scale rice production as described earlier.

Point 15 – The commercial of the US$1 billion upgrade of the Highlands Highway of which the Project Management Unit has been established at Works and contracts have been advertised for supervisory contractors. Work will commence in 2018.

 

Point 16 – The Gerehu 3B Affordable Housing Pilot Project where 1762 allotments have been made available free to qualifying citizens. The earthwork has been completed and power and water services are being constructed. Together with the concessional funding at BSP, this will make housing accessible to ordinary Papua New Guineans and drive construction and employment. It can provide an example to duplicate in other centres.

 

Pont 17 – Commencement of the New Enga Provincial Hospital construction and Mount Hagen Hospital PPP redevelopment plan in 2018.

 

Point 18 – The ceasing of closed tender financing which Cabinet has approved and the bringing forward of the National Procurement Authority Bill which is ready to come back to Cabinet after changes were requested by Cabinet.

 

Point 19 – Requires audited accounts for SOEs and Statutory Authorities by Mid-2018.As treasurer it will be tabling all the reports for the Agencies under my responsibility as soon as they are cleared by Cabinet.

 

Point 20 – Have all prescribed Boards appointed. This is underway, particularly under the State Enterprise Minister and Agriculture Minister.

 

Point 21 refers to thr freeing up resource land owner benefits;

  1. The PNG LNG Land owners vetting issues are ongoing but royalty payments to the plant site land owners have commenced and it is anticipated to shortly resolve the pipeline first payments and the progress to conclusion the clan vetting at the gas fields.
  2. The Ok Tedi land owners CMCA and non-CMCA have funds held in trust that have been cleared by the courts and I am waiting on advice from the Justice Department to authorise some of the pending contracted works against those funds.

Point 22 – Proposed to suspend proposed amendments to the Lands Act, In the IPA Act, the Agriculture Investment Act, the Agriculture Administration Adjustment Act and the Mineral resource Authority and the Mining Act to allow further consultation. This has been done.

 

Point 23 – Refers to the National Energy Authority Bill. This should refer to the Petroleum Authority Bill which is being finalised in Parliament.

 

Point 24 – Refers to progressing the Population Policy and finding has been provided in the 2018 Budget under the Sustainable Development Program at Planning for this.

Point 25 – Refers to Medium Term Development Plan 3 to be published in 2018. This is a 5 year development plan and indicator targets for the government of the day which will incorporate the United Nations sustainable Development Goals.

2018 National Budget – Economic & Development Policies

FOREWARD

It is my great pleasure to deliver the 2018 National Budget which is my first substantive budget as the Treasurer in the new O’Neill-Abel Government. The 2018 Budget marks the beginning of the new Medium Term Fiscal Strategy 2018-2022 that aims to confront the current set of challenging fiscal conditions with vigour, including the current subdued economic conditions and depressed revenue, strengthen the macroeconomic and fiscal fundamentals of the economy, and get the economy moving forward.

At the same time, the Budget will the Government’s social spending priorities and improve the opportunities for people and the standard of living for ordinary Papua New Guineans.

In recent years the PNG economy has endured a series of economic shocks following the rapid growth brought about by the commodity boom and the construction of the PNG LNG project. Commodity prices have fallen and remain relatively low and the severe drought in 2015 added to the difficulties.

A foreign exchange imbalance has developed which has further constrained economic growth, together with rising debt levels and domestic financing constraints. We have had to respond to these shocks by cutting discretionary spending, mostly from the capital budget, which has further suppressed economic conditions.

The shocks have had a much greater impact than initially anticipated and continue to have an adverse impact as we end 2017.

Total government revenue has collapsed as a share of the GDP from 20 per cent in 2012 to 13.4 per cent in 2016 and is expected to decline further to below 13 per cent by end-2017. This has resulted in larger than anticipated budget deficits and delayed the projected return to a balanced budget.

Furthermore, within the overall expenditure envelop, a number of categories have expanded, particularly personnel emoluments and interest costs. As part of its decisive and responsible management of the economy, when the lower economic growth rates were realised, the Government pursued fiscal consolidation with a significant reduction in expenditure over the past few years.

However, given the difficulty of even slowing the growth in these rigid categories of expenditure, especially against a backdrop of the continuation of subdued economic conditions, most of the burden of adjustment fell on the much-needed and productive capital expenditure Budget.

The 2018 Budget and medium-term strategies we have formulated will combat these adverse trends and get the economy moving forward again with some momentum. The strategy will pursue three parallel paths: (i) to halt the declining revenue trend then lift collections onto a higher sustained rising trend over the medium term; (ii) to reign back locked-in and less productive expenditure categories onto more sustainable paths to create space for a lift in more productive capital spending that will get the economy moving significantly forward again; and (iii) improve debt management and cost of financing and extinguishment of the foreign exchange imbalance.

The international outlook is becoming more positive, commodity prices have started to trend higher and international capital, particularly into emerging markets, is starting to expand as investor’s appetite for risk improves. We need to be ready to capitalise on these more positive international developments. The APEC summit in 2018 will allow PNG to showcase its

readiness for enhanced capital and trade flows. The 2018 Budget will provide the platform for fixing our fiscal problems and then building optimism for growth and development.

The Government announced its intentions in a 100 Day Plan to kick start the Alotau Accord 2. The 25 policy actions of the Plan were specific interventions aimed at restoring fiscal discipline, addressing the foreign exchange imbalance, enhancing revenue, strengthening our economic base and improving governance and were reinforced in the 2017 Supplementary Budget. The 2017 Supplementary Budget and 2018 Budgets are Points 1 and 2 in this Plan.

The Accord also operationalises the longer term development plans based on Vision 2050 and StaRS. These will be articulated against specific indicators and sectoral interventions in the upcoming Medium Term Development Plan 3, according to the National Planning Act, 2016. There is a specific focus on reinvigorating growth through SMEs and the tourism and agricultural sectors that will underpin broad based and inclusive economic growth structures.

In the 2018 Budget the Government will establish in the commercial banks a dedicated SME fund of K100.0 million for concessional lending, and an agricultural commercialisation fund of up to K100.0 million. Furthermore, a number of key policies associated with the 2018 APEC agenda will be progressed, such as advancing financial inclusion through financial literacy programs, adopting digital financial services and spreading mobile banking capabilities.

Importantly, the Government will continue to invest in key national infrastructure programs in 2018, particularly, the Highlands Highway, coastal jetties, the missing link roads program, hydro and gas power generation stations, and the international submarine cable project. These are important transformational projects that will reduce the cost of doing business, improve market access for rural farmers, and improve and lower the cost of communications for businesses and consumers.

The Government’s key policy priorities and programs, such as the Services Improvement Program, tuition fee free and free health care programs will be maintained to ensure the board- based consumption and delivery of goods and services to our people.

The 2018 National Budget Expenditure envelope is set at K14,718.0 million against a revenue projection of K12,731.0 million. This translates into a fiscal deficit of K1,987.2 million, or 2.48 per cent of GDP. This is expected to maintain the total debt-to-GDP ratio at just above 32 per cent of GDP, which is well within the approved range of 30.0 per cent to 35.0 per cent of GDP prescribed in the Fiscal Responsibility Act (amended 2017).

The 2018 Budget is consistent with the stringent and prudent fiscal anchors established in the new MTFS 2018-22 which comprise:

  • Lifting the total revenue (excluding grants) to GDP ratio to 14.6 per cent in 2018 and to target 14.0 per cent by 2022;
  • reducing government expenditure from 18 per cent of GDP in 2018 to 16 per cent in 2022;
  • reducing the government debt to GDP ratio to 30 per cent by 2022 and ensuring the sustainability of the debt profile, including the shift towards external financing through budget support loans from the World Bank and ADB and through an inaugural US Dollar bond issuance program;
  • maintaining the non-resource primary fiscal balance on a trajectory that will achieve a zero annual average balance over the medium term (to 2025);
  • ensuring that Personnel Emolument costs are contained and brought down from 49 per cent of total non-resource revenue in 2017 to 31 per cent by 2022; and
  • ensuring that two-thirds of primary expenditure is allocated to key MTDP Enablers and that the public investment to GDP ratio is lifted from 4 per cent of GDP in 2017 to at least 6 per cent by 2022.

To fund the adjustment costs and lift the economic growth momentum, yet stay within the set medium term fiscal anchors, the 2018 Budget will focus decisively on revenue through the first ever Medium Term Revenue Strategy which has been developed with the International Monetary Fund.

The Strategy has had substantial input from the Government’s 2015 comprehensive Tax Review and recent technical assistance from an International Monetary Fund team. Some of the key initiatives to be implemented in 2018, include the establishment of a large taxpayers’ office to improve compliance and tax service, a number of tax measures to raise additional revenue and the announcement of the drafting of a new Tax Administration Act to modernise and simplify tax administration.

The Government is also introducing legislation per the 100 Day Plan compelling all statutory authorities and other government agencies collecting non-tax revenue under statute to remit the collection of those funds to the Consolidated Revenue Fund. The Government has also commenced the process of transferring trust fund balances and assets back into the Consolidated Revenue Fund and enhancing the dividend flows from state-owned enterprises.

Financing the 2018 Budget will be critical and much will depend on the portfolio shift towards lower-average cost external debt and this will be achieved by seeking highly concessional World Bank and ADB budget support funding that will be combined with a US Dollar commercial bond program. The portfolio shift will also: firstly, relieve pressure on the tight domestic security market allowing the development of the less risky, longer term domestic bond market; secondly, increase the level of credit to the private sector; and, finally facilitate the extinguishment of the foreign exchange imbalance.

There are important adjustments to the tariff regime and housekeeping tax legislation.

Overall, the 2018 Budget is a forthright step towards strengthening the resilience of the PNG economy to withstand future economic shocks. It lays the groundwork for fiscal consolidation and it will reignite the economic growth momentum and boost optimism for the future. It will provide the platform to showcase the best of PNG to the world at the upcoming APEC summit.

It is “Time to pull our socks up and go for it”.
I commend the 2018 Budget to the Honourable Members and to the people of Papua New

Guinea.

……………………………………
HON. CHARLES ABEL, MP
DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER AND MINISTER FOR TREASURY

http://www.treasury.gov.pg/html/national_budget/2018.html

 

 

Is the 100 Days – 25 Point Plan Practical and Achievable ?

By Francis Hualupmomi



It appears that the government has admitted that there has to be a macroeconomic discipline in rescuing the current economic situation. And it has put forward a 100-Days 25-Point Plan economic rescue package for the country based on the Alotau Accord II. But is this package realistic and achievable? Therefore, this article seeks to respond to this question.
The Current Economic Situation

Source: ADB 2017 Outlook https://www.adb.org/countries/papua-new-guinea/economy



According to the Asian Development Bank Economic Outlook (2017), the PNG economy has slowed down to 2.0 percent compared to the last four years (see the figure above). But it is predicted to pick up again at 2.5 percent by 2017 driven by mining and agriculture. The slowdown in the economy has been attributed to low commodity prices. This has increased inflation and unemployment, decreased foreign reserves, and affected the national budget.

Macroeconomic Landscape
It appears that the economic approach undertaken by the government over the last four has been one of an Expansionary. At the fiscal policy level, it has been driving the economy with high spending and borrowing at the backdrop of a decade long economic growth. The rationale is simple – utilise the surplus to expand the economy through infrastructure development which will, in turn, stimulate the economy. As a result of this approach, the economy has experienced an infrastructure boom in the economy as has been so far.
At the monetary level, it has been responding to the fiscal policy to ensure that the economy remains stabilised. It is important to note that in a country like PNG, monetary policy approach responds to fiscal policy to ensure stability. In so doing, it controls exchange rate and interest rates which tend to influence inflationary (inflation) behaviour.
Unfortunately, this macroeconomic policy has been affected by an unfavourable condition. There are two related factors, apart from others, that affect this behaviour. First, is that our commodities have been hit hard by low prices in the global market, which we have no control over. As a result of this price fluctuation, the revenue sources have been affected to sustain the fiscal capacity (budget). Because PNG is a resource-dependent economy that relies heavily on mineral and petroleum sectors, a price fluctuation in the global market will directly affect the economy in terms of growth and development. That is one of the reasons why the budget has been cut in certain social and economic sectors.
The second factor is that while the expansionary approach has been good it has not been managed at a sustainable level. What it means is that as the commodity prices slowly began to pick up again there has been a steady increase in the spending and borrowing. The reason is that there is an expectation that price will pick up again as in normal business cycle and sustain the expansionary approach. The downside of it is that it is quite difficult to predict the price fluctuation due to the complex interaction of market forces. As a result of this fiscal behaviour, the budget spending and borrowing has increased the deficit. However, the budget deficit can be improved and incrementally restored to normalcy through a sustainable macroeconomic policy package. Therefore, the next part will discuss this.

The Viability of the New Macroeconomic Rescue Package
The new Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer, Hon Charles Able, has realised the downside of the expansionary macroeconomic approach. And he has proposed a 100-Days economic package to rescue the economy from further sinking. In essence, this is a 25-Point Plan which has been widely consulted with the private sector and led by some of the senior ministers and economic advisors. While this package may seem unrealistic to some critical commentators, in my view, it is a workable and achievable one.
The 100-Days 25-Point Plan intervention is based on these key strategic economic priority areas:


• Maintain Fiscal Discipline and Boost Foreign Exchange; Growing Our Revenues;
• Strengthening Our Economic Base;
• Improving Our Governance Record, and;
• Acting Strategically
.
First, maintaining fiscal discipline and boost foreign through the growing of revenues. Given the issue of the fiscal problem, practically maintaining a fiscal discipline in a prudent manner will help boost the foreign exchange in many ways. That means controlling and spending behaviour as compared to previous years. And this must be balanced with growing revenues through multiple sources. Incoming revenues must be prudently managed in a sustainable way. What is collected should be spent on strategic priority areas that can bring in higher returns.
In addition, the tax cut will be a balanced strategy. This is because no new taxes will be imposed on ordinary people despite declining revenues. However, this can be recovered through those who avoid or and evade tax. The country has been missing out on the billion dollar extractive industries through tax. For instance, a lot of companies in the mining, petroleum and logging industries have been avoiding or exempted from tax. As result of this, billions of Kina have been going out of the country. These lost revenues could be recovered and help support the budget.
Secondly, strengthening of the economic base is an innovative plan to invest in economic areas that have been ignored. This implies that the economic base must be diversified to boost the economy by way of revenues sources and invested in a lot of baskets to cushion economic surprises. Apparently, the focus on agriculture is pragmatic going forward. It has been a neglected billion dollar sector. Therefore, it is hoped that this will incrementally support and sustain the budget. 
Moreover, while the plan sounds practical, the governance aspect of it is fundamentally critical. The government has been widely criticised by the public for governance issues. And this approach is a noble plan to improve its credibility and international standing. In so doing, it will help its approach in prudently governing and managing the economy. Because investor confidence attracts investment and helps build the economy. Political governance is the strategic driver of economic growth and development at this time and in the long run.
Finally, these plans must be pursued in a strategic way. Every decision requires calculated available options to maximise optimal outcome. The government has chosen the best strategy therefore, it is Directionally Correct.



In conclusion, the economy has been affected due to the changing economic conditions and governing approach. And this has been evident in the current economic situation the country is facing. But this can be arrested through a sustainable macroeconomic approach. Therefore, the 100-days 25-point plan package is a practical one and needs to be incrementally governed and managed in a strategic way.

Francis Hualupmomi is a PhD Student in Public Policy in the School of Government, Victoria University of Wellington. He is a Political Scientist in the area of political economy of energy security, geopolitics of resources, international security, and strategic policy. Views expressed here are his own. francishualupmomi270@gmail.com 

Election of PNG Prime Minister

By: PNG Political Commentary FB Page

There has been a lot of confusion and also a lack of understanding in regards to the election of the PNG Prime Minister. Therefore I’m here to give an explanation on the election of the Prime Minister to clear the polluted air. And that’s right the Prime Minister is elected! Not appointed! That’s one thing you all have to understand. Who elects the Prime Minister? All 111 members of Parliament take part in the election of the Prime Minister.

Now let’s get down to basics. First of all it is the law that regulates or outlines the Prime Minister’s election process. The PNG Constitution, Organic Law on the Integrity of Political Parties (OLIPP), and the Parliamentary Standing Orders (PSO) are important laws to take note of.

 

Invitation to Form Government

• It all starts with an “Invitation to Form Government” (Section 63(1) OLIPP). Under this particular provision the Electoral Commission, on the date of the return of the writs, is mandatorily obliged to advise the Head of Stead (Governor General) of the political party which has endorsed the greatest number of candidates declared elected.

• After receiving the advice from Electoral Commission, the Governor General then, in accordance with the advice of the Electoral Commission, invites that particular political party to form government.

• Note that the Governor General cannot act on his own accord but only on the advice of the Electoral Commission. Also the Governor General is not at this point appointing a political party to form government but rather inviting it to form Government. Like for instance, someone sends you an invitation to go to a birthday Party. If you receive the invitation it doesn’t mean you’re already at the party, you may go or you may not go.

At this time according to the latest reports, it is evident that People’s National Congress Party (PNC) has the greatest numbers of candidates that have been duly declared as elected in 2017. Therefore there’s no doubt that PNC would be invited by the Governor General to form Government.

parliament

Election of Prime Minister under PSO section 7

This is the stage where things become technical but I’ll try to be as layman as possible.

• The Prime Minister is elected by members of Parliament normally during Parliament’s second meeting. The first Parliament meeting is convened after the due date of the return of the writs and is usually for swearing in of members, the election of the Speaker, and other official business (s142(3) PNG Constitution, see also case of Haiveta v Wingti & others [1994] PNGLR 197) .

• By virtue of section 63(4) of the OLIPP and section 7 of the PSO, the political party that has received the invitation to form government from the Governor General has the privilege of nominating a member of parliament to become Prime Minister. Parliament would then vote after the nomination and the nominated candidate would have to muster a simple majority in order to be elected and declared Prime Minister.

• If the candidate nominated by the invited political party does not receive a simple majority than Parliament would have to resort to section 7A of the PSO for the election of a Prime Minister.

• Take note that the procedure under section 7A of the PSO is only followed if the candidate nominated by the invited political party fails to secure a simple majority of votes to become the elected and declared Prime Minister.

• Simple majority should be around 50% of the total members of parliament. So 50% x 111= 55.5 round it up you get 56.

Election of Prime Minister under Section 7A PSO

• The Speaker of Parliament calls for nominations.

• At this stage the floor is open to all members of Parliament to make nominations.

• Under this process the privilege of nominating a candidate
for the Prime Minister’s seat is not only given to the party invited to form government but also other political parties.

• Members of Parliament can nominate more than one candidate for the Prime Minister’s seat under this process.

• A preferred nominated candidate for Prime Minister does not need to reach a simple majority of votes from members of parliament. The preferred nominated candidate only needs to receive a majority of votes in order for him to be declared as the duly elected Prime Minister (PSO section 7A(11) ).

If PNC and its coalition partners increases to 56 or more, most likely we’ll see PNC’s Party Leader retain his seat as Prime Minister and the formation of a PNC coalition government. On the other hand if the Eastern Alliance Camp increases we might see a change of government. Remember this is Papua New Guinea, so expect the unexpected…

Immediate Priorities to Prepare for 2017 Elections 

By: Solomon Kantha 
Recommended to Electoral Commissioner in 2015

IMMEDIATE PRIORITIES TO PREPARE FOR 2017 ELECTIONS 

 

a) Improvement of Electoral Roll 
The electoral roll will be the key priority and will obviously require a proper, thorough and effective updating. The Electoral Commission will need to work closely with political parties, candidates, elected leaders, civil society and voters to get the buy-in to ensure a clean and updated electoral roll. It has to do more than just administering elections. Roll management needs to be configured so that any re-enrolment, updating and verification is conducted with centralized oversight, auditing and controls. More importantly, a dedicated roll management unit within the Electoral Commission headquarters must be set up and supported by the government as a specific program. There would also need to be transparent recruitment and performance management and regular auditing of province, district, and ward-based level staff.

 

Reasonably low-cost technology can compile (in the field) a digital Voters’ Roll that includes both photograph and fingerprints. Consideration will be given to requesting this technology and to trialling it in priority areas.  

 

b) Introduction of Voter Identification Card 
A voter ID card must be implemented for the 2017 elections and is the single most important device that can transform the election in the polling process by eliminating double/multiple voting, voting using ghost names, under-aged voting, impersonation and other aspects of electoral fraud. A basic voter ID card can be introduced with a photograph and finger print basic security feature and issued to every eligible registered voter. I have observed the use of a voter ID card in elections in other countries in the region and it has tremendously facilitated a successful election. The voter ID will have the basic particulars of a person such as an ID number, full name, sex, date of birth, province, district, electorate/constituency, and village. The voter will therefore vote in the electorate that appears on his/her voter ID. Apart from its use once every five years, the ID card can also serve the purpose of other identification for ordinary citizens to access banking, travel, pension, business and other services. The voter ID card will be reissued only if the person changes electorate or changes name in the case of a married female voter.  

 

A Voter ID Unit will be established to work on the voter ID card system and kick start the process for 2017 elections. A bid process can be advertised with the contract awarded to a consultant company to set up the IT infrastructure for the Electoral Commission to administer, register and process all voter ID cards. The process of the production of voter ID cards will be owned by the Electoral Commission. Once an eligible voter is registered the particulars of the individual will be automatically transmitted to the central system in the headquarters to process the person’s voter ID card.  

 

c) Improvement of Polling Process 
The polling process can be improved with the use of a voter ID card. An eligible voter will be required to produce their voter ID card to a polling official before casting their vote. In the event that a person presents their voter ID card but their name is not on the electoral roll, the person can still vote given the validity, authenticity and authority of the voter ID card. If the person for some reason does not have a voter ID card but their name is on the roll, the person can still vote provided that the person provides a valid and genuine form of identification such as a driver’s license or PNG passport. If the person’s does not have a voter ID card and their name is not on the roll, the person cannot vote. The use of the voter ID card against the roll will help to significantly reduce the number of eligible voters not voting if their names for some reason are not on the common roll as seen in the recent election.  

 

The process by which the indelible ink is used to mark the finger of a person after voting will also be changed. A person will have to dip their finger at least half-way into the ink instead of just a line on the finger tip. An appropriate ink for that purpose will be used and can last up to a month on the finger. This process will eliminate the practice of removing the indelible ink by using acidic fruits, bleach or other chemicals. 

 

d) Improvement of Counting Process 
Given the recent experience with the significant mistrust in the counting processes in the last election that led to a lot of delays, a regional/provincial rotational system of counting officials will be developed whereby counting officials from one region (e.g. New Guinea Islands) will be moved to another region (e.g. Momase region) to take charge of counting. All counting will be undertaken by officials not originally from the province so that the integrity of the process is respected by all parties/candidates of the particular electorate which the counting is taking place. A volunteer registration system can also be developed to recruit individuals in the provinces to be involved in the rotational system of the counting process, provided that these individuals have a neutral standing in the community. These are options that can be considered to improve and instill trust in the counting process.  

 

e) Promoting Minority Rights and Rights of Vulnerable Groups 
An awareness raising campaign would be conducted to promote the political rights of minority groups (women, people living with HIV/AIDS and disables), vulnerable communities (those affected by climate change, natural disaster or ethnic conflicts) including PNG citizens living/working abroad to participate effectively in the elections. The rights of minority and vulnerable groups will be reflected in legislation and/or policy. For the elections to be a truly democratic process, these groups of citizens need to be empowered to participate in the election process. To promote the rights of these groups a Goodwill Envoy who may be a popular international, regional or local musician/band or artist can be selected and sponsored for various awareness events leading up to the elections. 

 

 

MID TO LONG-TERM PRIORITIES 

 

f) Legislative Review 
The Organic Law on National and Local Level Government Elections is outdated and needs a thorough review to embrace the changes in society, evolving political culture and the needs and issues of this present time. The review will allow the Electoral Commission to effectively administer elections. A legislative review should consider issues such as: (a) political rights of citizens abroad, and minority and vulnerable groups in society; (b) introduction of a biometric and/or basic voter ID Card system; (c) the procedures of postal voting to allow citizens outside of country and those absent during election period from their electorate; (d) clearly defined roles of Returning officers, Assistant Returning Officers, Presiding Officers and Scrutineers; (e) a swift and inexpensive process of decision-making by Courts on election disputes and petitions; (f) enhancing powers of the Electoral Commission and; (g) setting reasonable limits to campaign expenditure. These are few of the major issues but there is a critical need to review the entire legislation so that it reflects the changes in the social, economic and political dynamics of the PNG. The review may also embrace some of the points discussed below in this proposal. 

 

g) Counting and Declaration of Election Results 
This process is proposed to be reflected in the legislative review where after the counting of all ballot boxes the provisional election results will be immediately provided by the Returning Officer to all candidates and political parties in an electorate. The candidates/parties will be given 72 hours to make a claim or appeal against the provisional results. If there are any claims/appeal against the winning candidate or provisional results, a special court much like the Court of Disputed Returns in each province will convene immediately to make a final decision within 7 days subject to evidence provided. After the Court’s decision the final results of the election will be officially tabulated and announced. This process will take not more than a week and the court’s decision is final.  

 

This process will significantly reduce the waste of resources, time, money and effort incurred by the State, aggrieved and declared candidates through the Court of Disputed Returns and allow the winning candidates to assume their mandates and immediately move on with the responsibilities in their electorate, province and at the national level.   

 

h) Out of Country and Postal Voting 
The Organic Law on National and Local Level Government Elections allow for the use of postal voting by PNG citizens living/working abroad however this process has never been implemented since 1964. Postal voting for citizens living abroad will be piloted in at least two countries (Australia and New Zealand) where there are a significant number of PNG citizens residing. Particular Diplomatic Missions of the country abroad can also be identified as regional postal voting locations (e.g. Brussels in Europe, Singapore in Asia, Washington DC in Americas and Canberra in the Pacific) whereby votes of citizens in that region can be sent to these Missions to forward on to the Electoral Commission. The Organic Law on Elections will be reviewed to have specific provisions on the eligibility of citizens abroad, the required proof of citizenship and the electorate by which they will vote for to allow citizens abroad to exercise their democratic and political rights. Electoral Commission will be working closely with the Department of Foreign Affairs and PNG Immigration & Citizenship Service Authority to implement this initiative.  

 

Postal voting will be conducted and postal ballots received by the Electoral Commission a week prior to the nation-wide polling schedules. An electoral officer will be seconded to PNG consular offices overseas in the period of postal voting and will be responsible for administering the process. The process of postal voting will also be implemented for those citizens that may be traveling during the election period, those that will be engaged in providing security (e.g. Police and Defence personnel) during elections and those that are sick, disabled or unable to vote in person for reasons beyond their control.    

 

i) Defining the role of election officials 
The Returning Officers, Assistant Returning Officers, Presiding Officers and Scrutineers play a very important role particularly in the counting process and their roles need to be clearly defined in legislation if not in policy. Experience in previous elections as well as the last election has shown that the counting process can be easily hijacked if the roles of these officers and their powers are not clearly defined and demarcated. While scrutineers in particular play a vital role in ensuring that ballot papers are clearly allocated and votes counted they should never overpower the Returning Officers and disrupt continuity of counting process especially in light of timeframes that are set for the declaration of results and return of writs. Nevertheless, clear processes and procedures must be in place for the grievances of scrutineers to be effectively taken into consideration. The legislation and/or policy would be revised to improve a clear coordination and understanding of roles and responsibilities between these officials.  

 

j) Enhancing the enforcement powers of the Electoral Commission 
The legislative review will also take in account and enhance the powers of the Electoral Commissioner to suspend elections or polling and counting processes if there is a critical security risk and widespread violence that affects or prevents citizens from freely, fairly and safely participating in the election process. The people must learn to respect democratic election processes and until they respect that process they will not have a representative in Parliament. The Electoral Commissioner must have the powers to put on hold the election process in an electorate or province indefinitely in the case of widespread violence and electoral fraud until the people come to a compromise to guarantee a free, fair and safe election.  

 

In the elections conducted over the years the Electoral Commission has never taken a strong stance in prosecuting cases of electoral fraud and abuse. Candidates can sign up to the rules of “fair play” and to provide speedy and effective processes for dealing with breaches of electoral laws. Accepting the need for independent scrutiny by the Courts, the Electoral Commission should be able to act as Plaintiff, not just as Defendant, in enforcing electoral law. Consideration will be given to establishing a special “Election Tribunal” with election and legal expertise to consider breaches of the electoral laws during elections. If the Electoral Commission had reliable evidence of a person breaching the campaign laws (for example, bribery) it should apply to remove the Candidate from that election. If the vote had already taken place, the first preference would be removed just as if that candidate had been eliminated, and other preferences re-allocated. The new message needs to be: breaching electoral rules is not to your advantage. The old message effectively was: anything that improved the chances of winning was acceptable. 

  

k) Limits on campaign expenditure 
To prevent domination by only the wealthiest in elections, many countries have reasonably effective limits to campaign expenditure. Without clear rules spelling out acceptable expenditure and banning “traditional gifts”, such limits would be completely unviable in PNG. All politicians and indeed their communities should share an interest in setting effective limits on campaign expenditure. I accept, however, that enforcement is a major problem. But legislation can empower the Electoral Commission to establish such limits by Regulation, when it deems that reasonable enforcement possibilities exist. 

 

l) Candidates to declare assets 
It makes little sense to clean up elections without linkage to corresponding sanctions in public office to stop the cycle of corruption. Obviously there are existing processes in place in this regard, but consideration could be given to requiring all Candidates (not just elected MPs) to submit declarations of assets to the Ombudsman as part of the nomination process, and to provisions which would mean that any false declaration rendered the person ineligible to stand for a defined period. The purpose of the recommendation is firstly educative (in reminding candidates that they embark on a process where their overall integrity is on the line) and secondly to lay the basis for possible later investigation if relevant. Playing by the rules should not be just one option in a game of winning at all costs – it should be a condition for being a candidate or holder of public office. 

 

m) Abolishing by-elections 
The legislation will be reviewed to as much as possible allow the abolishment of by-elections. Consideration will be given to abolishing by-elections under certain conditions. Under First Past the Post (FPP), “winning” candidates routinely received less than 10% of the overall vote. With three votes under LPV, there is solid evidence that a far wider democratic mandate would have been won by even losing candidates than was often secured under FPP. It would, in my view, be perfectly legitimate to consider requiring the Electoral Commission to complete the count in a manner that would allow the reallocation of votes in the event that a person lost his or her seat. Careful attention to detail would be necessary, including possibly requiring a by-election in the event of the death of an MP or under extraordinary circumstances the voluntary resignation of an MP. Other factors would include situations where a person was removed because of, say, mass multiple voting that threatened the integrity of the ballot, that person’s entire vote would be excluded, including all three preferences (because of the fraud). But in principle, it should be possible to allow the reallocation of votes of a person who lost her or his seat, to establish a successor with the next highest mandate. This alone, would save millions of Kina and allow the Electoral Commission to concentrate on the Roll between elections.

Less Money, Less Vote Buying

By: Political Observer

Reports received from 2017 NGE candidates across the country is that they are running out of money for their campaign. It seems most are wishing and hoping that June 24th arrived so ends the campaigning.

We still have 5 weeks to go and most Political Parties and Candidates have run dry.

Kerengu Kua stated to ABC that this has several implications for PNG democracy.

However, the alternative viewpoints also is that, this will see a test of candidates who heavy rely on “Vote Buying” to change their strategy and start using “development policies” to win votes.

Most candidates dont have a practical Political Platform and the lack of money in spending will put “Spot lights” on alternatives which they can offer rather than “vote buying” and big ceremonies.

Strong Political Platforms will be the Big Winner this election..


Papua New Guinea’s cash crunch saps colour from election campaigns

 

Tough economic times are affecting Papua New Guinea’s normally colourful election campaign.

Candidates and parties are crying poor, and that has meant the normally feverish campaign is more subdued than expected.

The leader of the PNG National Party, Kerenga Kua, said that has implications for PNG’s democracy.

Kua
It’s election season in Papua New Guinea, which means it’s time for colourful campaigns, rallies and outlandish promises by candidates.
“There is less colour, less movement, and that’s not good, because you need to have some level of activity for educational purposes,” he said.

“The messages from candidates need to go out for the people. To do that, they need money and they don’t have money.”
Voters usually expect campaigns to be a period of uncharacteristic generosity from their incumbent politicians and intending candidates.

In the past, many have received inducements to support particular candidates, such as money, food or alcohol.

“They think the candidates will give them money, they will take the money as something they always wanted and they use the money and they cast their votes,” she said.
“They’re not thinking about the future of how they will enjoy the benefits of the government doing some good things for them, because they need money now.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-05-22/pngs-cash-crunch-saps-colour-from-election-campaigns/8544274?pfmredir=sm

 

 

World Bank to assist PNG Sovereign Wealth Fund setup

May 14, 2017 – By ROSALYN ALBANIEL

THE World Bank will be assisting the Bank of Papua New Guinea establish PNG’s Sovereign Wealth Fund Secretariat.

This was announced last Friday by BPNG governor Loi Bakani during an update on the matter.

“We got a visit from the World Bank and have got someone on the ground to help us set up that office. This is the administrative secretariat reporting to the board of the SWF,” Mr Bakani said.
Mr Bakani said there had been some issues on the appointment of the board of directors for the fund but said this is being handled by accounting firm KPMG under the directions of the Department of Treasury.

“As far as the secretariat is concerned, we hope to have someone very experienced on the ground to set up the office that will coordinate work here and we will set up the office once everything is in order,” he said.

On the issue of revenue flow into the fund, he said the main providers would be companies in the mining and petroleum sector including the LNG projects.

In the case of the multi-billion kina PNG LNG project, he indicated that this was likely to happen round about 2021, 2022 onwards.

“The national budget is framed around that time. This is when government expects the budget will also be balanced.”

“This is when government expects the PNG LNG will start paying taxes.”

“As it is, we have not got any foreign exchange from this project.”

“Until and unless the accelerated depreciation ends, which is seven to eight years, is over since first export in 2014.

“This is when we will see some taxes. It is still a long way away,” he said.

Releasing more land key to increasing Papua New Guinea home ownership

By: Kevin McQuillan
3rd May 2017

Demand for housing in Papua New Guinea is strong but there is a shortage of supply, according to the latest survey by Hausples, a Port Moresby-based real estate company.

The Hausples.com.pg 2017 survey shows that working class Papua New Guineans are beginning to understand the value that home ownership brings to their families and they are increasingly investing in their own properties, according to CEO and founder, Mat Care.
‘Despite Port Moresby’s high prices, most people (62 per cent) feel that now is an opportune time to purchase a property,’ he tells Business Advantage PNG.

According to a report by the ratings agency S&P Global, Banking Industry Country Risk Assessment: Papua New Guinea, average growth in PNG property prices, adjusted for inflation, has been about 8–11 per cent over the past four years.
‘New constructions in PNG’s housing market are largely funded through direct foreign investment or superannuation funds, with little leverage and little direct participation from the banking sector,’ the report says.
‘We estimate around 15 per cent of the banking system’s lending exposures are to property and related services, remaining unchanged in recent years.’

 

Supply

Mat Care ‘firmly believes’ that more effort should be made to increase supply, which he says will bring house prices down and increase access and affordability.
‘Housing is a critical factor in the continued development of PNG,’ says Care.
‘The country’s urbanisation rate of 12 per cent is incredibly low by global standards. Southeast Asia’s least urbanised country is Cambodia at 24 per cent.’

‘It is critical for landowners and the government to seek novel and fair ways to release more land.’

Care says that, despite the low urbanisation, the survey confirms the ‘very substantial housing shortage’ throughout the country.
‘Property development on customary land with long-term, 99-year leases, is becoming more common within the NCD [National Capital District] and Central Province,’ he says, citing Edai Town as a successful example.

edai
Standalone House in Edai Town

‘Whether customary land should be converted to freehold land is a policy issue for the government and the existing customary land holders,’ he says. ‘Potentially, a voluntary system of conversion, subject to appropriate compensation, could be considered.
‘Regardless, it is critical for landowners and the government to seek novel and fair ways to release more land for much-needed housing.’

 
BSP inquiries increase

Kanawi Chapiu, Bank South Pacific’s (BSP) Home Loan Coordinator, says home loan inquiries have risen. Potential customers show interest when they see others successfully buying their own house.
Since its inception in 2014, BSP has approved 534 home loans valued at K270 million under the BSP First Home Ownership Scheme (FHOS).

BSP Home ownerships
The average purchase price in the market is under K500, 000, Chapiu tells Business Advantage PNG. The Hausples survey backs that up, revealing that 70 per cent of people intend to spend less than K500,000 on a property. Thirty per cent are intending to spend K1 million or more.
Care says just over half (56 per cent) of respondents are seeking to buy a property in the next 12 months, while over 26 per cent said they would consider buying property in the next 18 months.

 
Capital preferred

Port Moresby remains the preferred place to own a home, with more than 80 per cent of survey respondents indicating they would like to buy in the capital.
Chapiu says there are no restrictions to lending outside of Port Moresby. ‘In fact, BSP has seen an increase in home loan inquiries from other major centres in PNG such as Lae, Kokopo, Alotau and Madang’.

‘All intending home owners who apply for a home loan are subject to meeting credit risk requirements.’

The bank uses a mortgage over the house as its collateral. A mortgagee cannot spend more than 40 per cent of their income on the mortgage.
Chapiu says all intending home owners who apply for a home loan are subject to meeting credit risk requirements. ‘They must ensure that the property or land they plan to purchase must be on state lease land with the title issued.’

 

Planning needed
The Institute of National Affairs has written many research papers and run workshops on the issue of what its Director, Paul Barker, calls ‘the absence of formal management of the urbanisation process’.
This failure, he points out, has seen prospective settlers, customary landowners, businesses and opportunists ‘do their own thing, often outside the formal legal process, and following the principle that possession is nine-tenths of the law’.
Barker wants a major effort to upgrade and generate safe towns and cities, with affordable housing, amenities, utilities, public transport and recreational are

Housing boom?

Hausples CEO Mat Care estimates that 5000 to 6000 new affordable and middle-income houses will be built in Port Moresby over the next 18 months, with up to 50,000 additional homes slated to be built by 2020.

‘These comprise government initiatives such as the National Housing Commission’s mega-development at Duran Farm which will comprise 44,000 dwellings (standalone 2-3 bedroom houses),’ he says.
Other smaller private developments include:
– Mediterranean Apartments (48 units comprising bedsit and 2 and 3 bedroom homes);
– Community Housing Limited’s proposed development at 9 Mile (160 stand-alone 3 bedroom houses);
– Edai Town, 300 homes (2 and 3 bedroom homes).

The high-end domestic and expatriate housing market is predominantly apartment-focused in central Port Moresby.

This includes:
– Airway’s new 3-bedroom development specifically for the LNG Project;
– Credit Corporation’s Era Motana development (2 and 3 bedrooms)
– Ela Vista’s Gardenia Apartments (2 and 3 bedrooms);
– Nambawan Super’s Pinnacle Apartments (2 and 3 bedrooms).

Higher commodity prices the key to improving Papua New Guinea credit ratings, says Standard & Poor’s Global Ratings

By: Kevin McQuillan

High debt and deficit levels are the reasons why ratings agency Standard & Poor’s (S&P) has kept its Papua New Guinea country rating at B+/B, with a negative outlook. S&P Director, Craig Michaels, tells Business Advantage PNG that higher commodity prices are the key to lifting the rating.
Michaels, the Director of Sovereign and Public Finance Ratings, says the decision reflected the high levels of offshore debt and high government deficits.
‘These have been driven, directly or indirectly, by the large LNG project, and we thought those external and fiscal imbalances would unwind pretty quickly once the LNG project came on line,’ he told Business Advantage PNG.
‘But unfortunately, just as that happened, commodity prices globally fell very sharply.
‘So the revenues that were due to come on stream at that point have been coming in much more slowly and that’s why we have continued our negative outlook on PNG ratings.’

 
Forceful

Sovereign ratings are used as an indicator for setting a country’s base interest rate. They also have an effect on its ability to raise offshore financing, which the PNG government has been attempting.
PNG’s rating has been comparatively stable. S&P has maintained its B+/B rating for over five years, although it converted its outlook to negative in October 2015, when commodity prices began to weaken.
Michaels says the government has responded ‘forcefully’ to the revenue declines through savings decisions, and by targeting declining fiscal deficits to keep debt within its targets.
Overall spending between 2014-2016 fell by about 13 per cent over this period, with the result that the fiscal deficit narrowed to 4.4 per cent of GDP in 2016, from 6.9 per cent in 2013.

‘We project PNG’s general government net debt to remain comfortably below 30 per cent of GDP.’

‘Despite an election in mid-2017, we expect the deficit to narrow further this year to less than 3 per cent of GDP,’ he says.
‘On this basis, we project PNG’s general government net debt to remain comfortably below 30 per cent of GDP.’
Michaels warns, however, that if the government fails to continue to restrain spending adequately, or if growth in the nominal economy comes under even further downward pressure, net general government debt could rise above 30 per cent.

Fiscal-operations-of-government
PNG Government revenues, expenses and deficits/surplus – Source: Bank of PNG. 2017 Budget Papers

 
Debt financing

Michaels believes domestic banks and pension funds have nearly reached their limits for lending to the government, and that the central bank is acting as lender-of-last-resort when government bond auctions are undersubscribed.
‘The limited demand for government debt has led to a sharp rise in yields on government paper in recent years, and the government’s interest burden has risen significantly as a result.’

‘Michael says one of the key challenges for PNG’s overall growth prospects is the high level of crime.’

Gross external financing needs are currently at 80-90 per cent of current account receipts, and likely to remain at that level as ‘it appears the government is very committed to keeping debt within its own debt limits’.
Michaels laments that, despite some recent improvements, there are gaps in economic and external data, as well as a lack of transparency in public-sector accounting.

 

Growth

Michael says one of the key challenges for PNG’s overall growth prospects is the high level of crime, ‘which we think is a major deterrent for investment outside the resources sector’.

‘S&P could return the rating outlook to ‘stable’ from ‘negative’ if we become convinced that the high level of external debt and the pretty sizeable fiscal deficits will continue to decline in a reasonably quick way.’

He expects growth to be 3 per cent in 2017, up slightly from 2.6 per cent in 2016.
‘The medium-term economic outlook hinges on whether further large foreign-financed projects—such as the Papua LNG project—go ahead.’

 
Upgrade

Michaels says S&P could return the rating outlook to ‘stable’ from ‘negative’ ‘if we become convinced that the high level of external debt and the pretty sizeable fiscal deficits will continue to decline in a reasonably quick way’.
‘And that will probably largely hinge on what happens with commodity prices.’